Ellie’s Story: Part-timer – the joys and pitfalls of working from home, part time (by Ellie Hayward)

I am a mother of two children under the age of ten and I work from home, part time.  I’ll spare you the (irrelevant) details. 

Pros of working from home

I can have a brinkmanship attitude about getting the kids to the school bus stop on time.  If we miss the bus, I have the time to drive the kids to school – it’s only happened once. 

I can ditch the makeup and smart clothes routine. Active wear ahoy! (Not really – its jeans for me).

Cons of working from home

There are days when I realise the only people I’ve spoken to are Siri and Alexa (and they never, like never volunteer to get the tea round). 

It’s hard saying no to family / friends in order to have autonomy of my day.  Part-time allows flexibility but that’s hard to balance when it comes to external demands on your time.  You don’t have the moat and drawbridge of an office to protect your working time. Don’t get me wrong; surprise visitors are ace (my downfall).

When you work from home, people wonder what the heck you do all day.

Recently, I was chatting with one of the smartly dressed in work-wear Mums at the school bus stop. When I casually mentioned that I work from home, her jaw literally dropped.  “Oh, I didn’t realise”, she gasped, as if to apologise for all her unspoken, preconceived notions about what that woman with the barely-brushed hair and skanky trainers does all day (i.e. me).  Or maybe it’s just me that had preconceived notions about her preconceived notions… 

I know that I am very lucky to have hit the work/life balance jackpot, by being in the position where I can work from home during school hours.  However, I have had to bite my tongue when others insinuate that I don’t have a ‘proper job’ or when they are subtly dismissive of my place in the world.  I can just see the commentary running behind their eyes as they glaze over and nod with a teeny bit of condescension – “She works from home and ‘part time’? Oh purleease….” 

I don’t engage in those competitions or comparisons.  Don’t engage, people!  Do not engage!

The truth is that we are all juggling with the same stuff, however our day takes shape.  (Sorry I used the J word – cringe.  Please forgive me.)  Bottom line – I get the same sinking feeling when a child falls ill, in case I can’t hit that deadline, when what I really want is to be mopping her brow and dispensing Calpol and cuddles.

From the ‘stay-at-home Mum’, to the ‘one-day-a-week in the city Mum’, to the ‘8am to 8pm highflyer (with a cleaner and a child-minder back-up squad) Mum’, we are all valid individuals.  No doubt we share the same hopes and fears.  I hope that you are valued in whatever you do.  Remember, you rock.  We all rock, however we do it.

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